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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Costa Rica Part 8

    Saturday, August 5, 2017
    Puerto Jimenez to Quepos, Costa Rica

    The prison-like bus terminal in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica.
    The prison-like bus terminal in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica.

    A bus driver and his rambutan in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.
    A bus driver and his rambutan in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.

    The owner of the Oro Verde Hostel knocked on my door a little before 10:00 am this morning, asking me if I was going to stay another night. As it turned out, check out time was at 10:00 am, but I thought it was at 11:00. He was nice enough to give me an extra half hour to pack up and get ready to go. When I asked him about catching the bus to Quepos, he told me it departed at 1:00 pm, which was still 2.5 hours away. He was nice enough yet again to let me sit on my bed in front of the fan until it was time for me to go. So, I spent the next hour finalizing and uploading the mega post on my jungle trek in Corcovado National Park.

    Tailgating a motorcyclist in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.
    Tailgating a motorcyclist in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.

    A little bit past noon, I shlepped over to what I thought was the bus stop. But, the bus waiting there was going somewhere else. A nice old guy got off the bus and directed me a couple of blocks over to the actual bus terminal, which bore a striking resemblance to a prison. After sitting by myself for a while, I was relieved when a guy eventually opened up the ticket window. I bought a ticket to Palmar Norte, a really small town / transportation hub on the Inter-American Highway, east of the Osa Peninsula.

    A rustic homestead in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.
    A rustic homestead in Puntarenas province, Costa Rica.

    The bus was supposed to leave at 1:00 pm, but, not surprisingly, didn’t actually depart until after 1:30. Likewise, what my hostel owner said would be a 1.5 hour bus ride turned out to take twice that long, as the bus had to stop frequently for a crap ton of people to get on and off. On the way there, we snaked through some seriously winding roads through the jungle-filled, mist-shrouded hills with awesome views of the calm, peaceful waters of the Golfo Dulce. At one point, I was stunned when I saw a young girl riding a long skateboard on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere.

    The bus, after I disembarked in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.
    The bus, after I disembarked in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.

    It was funny when people would come onboard the bus to sell food or pick up or drop off a small package. The driver and several other people bought bunches of rambutan from one lady. The driver even gave me one. It was pretty tasty. That kind of stuff would never happen in the United States. After hanging a left at a T intersection in the town of Piedras Blancas, we proceeded north up the Inter-American Highway to Palmar Norte. During this stretch, the bus stopped literally every quarter mile or less to pick up someone. Needless to say, it got totally packed full.

    A golden lion in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.
    A golden lion in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.

    Downtown Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.
    Downtown Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.

    Finally, three hours after take-off, we pulled into Palmar Norte. Upon exiting the bus, I asked the driver where I could catch the bus to Quepos, near Manuel Antonio National Park, and he pointed me in the right direction. At Tracopa’s tiny bus terminal, amid a Google translate session with the ticket clerk, I was dismayed to find out I’d be forced to fork over $25 for a ticket to San Jose, which is almost twice as far, and jump off at Quepos. No ticket was available for Palmar Norte to Quepos. What a racket! I wonder what in the hell that’s all about? I’ve never had to do such a thing in my entire life before. I’ve never even heard of that.

    A striped burrito at Aqui Jamo in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.
    A striped burrito at Aqui Jamo in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.

    After that fiasco, I met another Italian, this one traveling by himself, who was also going to Quepos. So, since we probably wouldn’t arrive there until after 10:00 pm, I thought I’d follow him to a hostel called Plinio that he had a reservation for. With two hours to kill before departure time at 6:30 pm, I trundled up the street and enjoyed a leisurely and tasty wet burrito dinner at Aqui Jamo, then bought some bananas and apples at a super mercado for a late night snack. Back at the bus stop, we finally boarded sometime after 6:30 pm. The bus was crowded, so I was super stoked no one sat next to me. Oh, and everyone was quiet, if you can believe that.

    A parrot kicks back in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.
    A parrot kicks back in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica.

    Maybe an hour later, we stopped only once for 20 minutes at one of those buffet joints on the side of the highway, where I took advantage of a decent place to pee and tank up on some more overpriced grub. Luckily, the bus didn’t stop anymore at all. Maybe an hour later, it suddenly pulled over and the driver stood up and announced “Quepos” to me and the Italian guy. I was really surprised. It was only around 8:45 pm, which means it only took two hours to get there. The ticket lady said it would take three. What a pleasant surprise! The funny thing is, I still had my shoes off. So, I grabbed them, my backpack and my messenger bag and frantically fought my way through the back doorway.

    The Tracopa bus from Palmar Norte to Quepos, Costa Rica.
    The Tracopa bus from Palmar Norte to Quepos, Costa Rica.

    As soon as I saw the road, I realized it was still wet from a recent drizzle. But, since I didn’t want to hold up the bus, there was no time to put on my shoes. It was damp socks time! Right after I sat on a curb to put on my shoes, a taxi cab pulled up and gave us a lift a few kilometers into town–and actually a little bit past–to the Plinio Hostel, an open air, multi-level, definitely-not-built-to-code wooden labyrinth set precariously up on a steep hillside. The Italian guy had a bed reserved and, luckily, they had an open bed for me, although it was the much dreaded top bunk, which I was afraid I might roll off of in my sleep and kill myself.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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